Law enforcement wellness: Promoting the “good” during the “bad” and “ugly”

  • Konstantinos Papazoglou ProWellness Inc., Toronto, ON, Canada; The POWER Project, San Diego, CA, USA
  • Katy Kamkar Center for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), Toronto, ON, Canada; University of Toronto, Department of Psychiatry, Toronto, ON, Canada
  • Jeff Thompson Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA
Keywords: Resilience, moral injury, compassion fatigue, self-compassion


Wellness and resilience have been at the epicenter of attention amongst many law enforcement researchers, clinicians, and professionals in recent years. Both resilience and wellness aim to provide law enforcement officers with knowledge and effective tools that can be employed during both professional and personal challenges. The current manuscript presents wellness within a context of prevalent conditions and/or situations (i.e., what is called “Good” during the “Bad” and “Ugly”) that law enforcement officers experience as part of their duties as well as in their personal lives. The authors aim to raise awareness of police wellness that needs to be viewed within the context of police work and not in a vacuum. Considering that, tangible actions and recommendations are also discussed.

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Author Biography

Katy Kamkar, Center for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), Toronto, ON, Canada; University of Toronto, Department of Psychiatry, Toronto, ON, Canada

Dr. Katy Kamkar, Ph.D., C. Psych., is a Clinical Psychologist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). She obtained her Clinical/Research Postdoctoral Fellowship 2006-2007 at CAMH, Canada’s largest Mental Health and Addiction Teaching Hospital and one of the largest Research Centres. She is an Assistant Professor within the Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto.


Dr. Kamkar provides Evidence-Based Assessment services, Independent Medical Evaluation, Disability Management services and Evidence Based Psychological Treatment (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) for Mood and Anxiety Disorders, Trauma and Stressor Related Disorders, including Posttraumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD), Occupational Stress Injuries to First Responders and on Psychological Distress in the Workplace. She is a member of Ontario Psychological Association (OPA), Canadian Psychological Association (CPA), and a Founding & Credentialed Member of the Canadian Association of Cognitive Behavioural Therapies (CACBT). She was also the Medical Practitioner for the Invictus Games launched by Prince Harry, Toronto 2017 and closely worked with the Service Members and Veterans.


Dr. Kamkar is the Executive Director, Canadian Association of Fire Investigators (CAFI) & Regional Director, Ontario.


Dr. Kamkar was selected and hired in 2019 by the Ministry of Solicitor General as the Mental Health Expert within the Province of Ontario to work with the External Independent Panel (Former Associate Chief Justice of Ontario; Former Deputy Attorney General of Ontario and Chief Prosecutor; and Former Ontario MPP and Cabinet Minister) to review Canada’s second largest police force, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) culture after a series of suicides of active and retired OPP officers. The final report contains 15 recommendations towards organizational and individual wellness and positive workplace culture.


Dr. Kamkar is on the Boards of Directors: 1. Badge of Life Canada (BOLC) which is a peer-led national charitable organization for Police and Corrections/First Responders across Canada who are dealing with psychological injuries suffered in the line of duty. 2. Operation Lifesaver Canada - Funded by the Railway Association of Canada and Transport Canada focusing on National Action Plan for Railway Suicide Prevention. 3. Canadian Juries Commission, a National Not-For-Profit Organization which represents Canadians serving on Jury Duty, and Coroners Inquests.


Dr. Kamkar is the Provincial Mental Health Advisor to St. John Ambulance Ontario’s Council.


She has been part of the Federal PTSD Act Advisory Committee, Public Health Agency of Canada, for the development of the PTSD Federal Framework. Canada’s First Federal Framework on Posttraumatic Stress Disorder has been released in February 2020.


She has recently been selected as Technical Committee Member on the new CSA Standard, National Standard on Work Disability Management for Paramedics, with a focus on addressing post-traumatic stress injury (PTSI). 


Dr. Kamkar is a Fellow & Member of the Collaborative Centre for Justice and Safety (CCJS) Advisory Council. She has been awarded the status of Fellow of the CCJS for strategic leadership at the board level of the University of Regina's research institute for her significant contributions to the wide range of innovative mental health programs that support Public Safety Personnel.    


She is on the Editorial Board – Section “Trust”- of the Journal of Community Safety & Well-Being (CSWB) and on November 2019 was featured as Editor Spotlight. Her Commentary “Trust Starts Within” published within the Journal CSWB


Dr. Kamkar is the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA) chair-elect of Traumatic Stress Section and chair as of May 2020. She is within the Scientific Advisory Committee of Anxiety Canada; an associate member of the Canadian Association Chiefs of Police (CACP); and is within the Research Advisory Committee as well as within the Psychology Advisory Committee of CACP.


One of her greatest interests is to provide education to the public to promote mental health awareness and well-being.


  • Dr. Kamkar provides ongoing Education and Workshops to Ministries and Organizations (Provincial, National and International), including First Responders Organizations. Her areas include Mental Health Promotion and Well-Being; Workplace Mental Health and Occupational Health and Safety – Organizational and Individual Levels; Stress/Anxiety Management, Work/Life Balance and Building Resiliency; Disability Management and Evidence-Based Best Practice Guidelines/Policies for Return To Work/Stay At Work for Workers with Mental Health Conditions; and on Occupational Trauma, Operational Stress Injuries and Building Organizational and Individual Resiliency Pathways.


  • She has thus far provided over 100 community speaking engagements as well as been invited as an opening and keynote speaker to numerous events, including a keynote speaker to the Forum of Canadian Ombudsman and Association of Canadian College and University Ombudspersons and keynote speaker to the Association of Municipalities of Ontario. She has also been invited as a Faculty to 2019 - Osgoode Professional Development, Osgoode Hall Law School York University, “The Osgoode/FCO Certificate – Essentials for Ombuds”; and invited as an Expert Witness, Analysis of Medical Viewpoint, Lancaster House Publishing Labour Arbitration & Policy “Disability & Misconduct: Proving the Connection”; and Expert Witness to the 2020 Human Rights and Accommodations, Lancaster House Publishing Labour Arbitration & Policy, “Difficult Accommodations: Responding to denial, defensiveness, and personality disorders”. She has also been invited as a keynote speaker by Cities within the province of Ontario, the City of Kitchener in 2019 and City of Stratford in 2020.



  • Dr. Kamkar was invited by the Fourth International Law Enforcement and Public Health (LEPH) conference in October 2018, Toronto, to build the session on Police Mental Health and Well-Being and as a speaker and chair of two sessions. She was a speaker and session convener at LEPH in October 2019, Edinburgh, Scotland, international police mental-health and well-being session. She is in continuous collaboration with LEPH as well as within the program committee of LEPH and will continue her work on International Police/First Responders Mental Health and Well-Being.


  • Dr. Kamkar is presently the Co-Chair of Health of Police/Mental Health of First Responders - Global Law Enforcement and Public Health Association Inc. (GLEPHA).


  • Dr. Kamkar has made over 200 Media Appearances (National & International TV, CTV National News, CBCNewsWorld, USA Today, Radio, Shows, Magazines; Online Articles) and has written close to 100 mental health articles for various comprehensive public resources and has provided numerous Public Relations / TV Media Work, including launching mental health series for Télévision Française de l'Ontario TFO, former Health Blogger for CTV Health News and CP24 and currently a contributor to Canadian Occupational Safety and other public resources. She has been on TVO The Agenda with Steve Paikin on several occasions discussing Police Mental Health following the Ontario Ombudsman “In The Line of Duty” 2012 report; covering issues related to workplace mental health; and on June 25, 2019 on “Burnout in a work-obsessed culture” following World Health Organization describing burnout as an “occupational phenomenon”.


Dr. Kamkar has also started Police Blog series: “Behind the Badge: Mental Health and Police Service” to further help reduce stigma of mental illness, promote mental health and positive cultural change and the understanding that mental trauma should be recognized and treated the same as physical injury.


She was part of building the Toronto Police Service Competencies for Front Line and Leadership to achieve modernization efforts and strive towards a culture of excellence. She had been part of the provincial project between Ontario Fire Chiefs and Workplace Safety Insurance Board (WSIB) to further mental health and operational guidelines from Wellness, Prevention, Interventions, to Return to Work.

Dr. Kamkar was invited by The House of Commons’ Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights in Ottawa as part of its study of counselling and other mental health supports for jurors and to share her knowledge and expertise on jurors’ experiences of stress as a result of jury duty, February 1st, 2018. She was invited again by The House of Commons’ Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food in Ottawa on October 23, 2018 as part of its study of mental health challenges that Canadian farmers, ranchers, and producers face.


Some of TV appearances: and video on mental health promotion and stigma reduction


The Agenda with Steve Paikin, June 25, 2019 “Burnout in a work-obsessed culture”


Her current academic research is on PTSD and Moral Suffering/Moral Injury among Police and First Responders.


  • She was invited as the leading author – Book Chapter on Moral Injury in Law Enforcement. Kamkar, K., Russo, C., Chopko, B., Tuttle, B.M., Blumberg, D.M., & Papazoglou, K. (2019). Moral Injury in Law Enforcement. In K. Papazoglou & D.M. Blumberg (Eds.), POWER: Police Officers Wellness, Ethics, & Resilience (pp. 117-128). Elsevier-Academic Press: San Diego, CA.


  • Papazoglou, K., Blumberg, D.M., Briones Chiongbian, V., Tuttle, B.M., Aukhojee, P., Kamkar, K., Chopko, B., & Koskelainen, M. (2020). The Role of Moral Injury in PTSD among Law Enforcement Officers. Frontiers in Psychology, 11:310. Open Access:  DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00310


  • Papazoglou, K., Blumberg, D.M., Kamkar, K., McIntyre-Smith, A., & Koskelainen, M. (2020). Addressing Moral Suffering in Police Work: Theoretical Conceptualization and Counselling Implications. Canadian Journal of Counselling & Psychotherapy, 54(1), 71-87.



Links to some of the most recent Workplace Mental Health & Police/First Responders Mental Health Articles:


Kamkar, K. (February 2020). 18 ways to improve workplace mental health. Thomson Reuters Blog, Canadian Occupational Safety, February 03, 2020.


Kamkar, K. (September 2019). When Struck by a Dark Cloud – Grief & Loss. Unsinkable. September 23, 2019.

Kamkar, K. (August 2019). Burnout latest ‘occupational phenomenon’. Thomson Reuters Blog, Canadian Occupational Safety, August 7, 2019.


Kamkar, K. (May 2019). 20 warning signs of compassion fatigue: First responders experiencing secondary traumatic stress due to nature of work. Thomson Reuters Blog, Canadian Occupational Safety, May 21, 2019.

Related video: Canadian Occupational Safety – Dealing with Compassion Fatigue


Kamkar, K. (January 2019). First responders suffering from ‘moral injury’. Thomson Reuters Blog, Canadian Occupational Safety, January 7, 2019.


Kamkar, K. (August 2018). 11 ways to boost mental health in the workplace. Thomson Reuters Blog, Canadian Occupational Safety, August 7, 2018.

Related video: Canadian Occupational Safety Top 7 ways to boost mental health in the workplace


Kamkar, K. (June 2018). The Beauty & the Beast of Workaholism, CAMH Blog, June 19, 2018.


Kamkar, K. (November 2017). Is there a cost to protecting, caring for and saving others? Beware of Compassion Fatigue. CAMH Blog, November 22, 2017.


Kamkar, K. (October 2017). Invictus Games: Resiliency in Action. CAMH Blog, October 20, 2017.


Kamkar, K. (September 2017). Behind the Uniform: When Struck by Moral Injury. CAMH Blog, September 14, 2017.


Kamkar, K. (April 2017). Behind the Badge: Depression and the Police Service. CAMH Blog, April 7, 2017.


Kamkar, K. (December 2016). Behind the Badge: Holiday Stress and the Police Service. CAMH Blog, Dec.15, 2016.


Kamkar, K. (October 2016). Behind the Badge: Mental Health and the Police Service. CAMH Blog, October 19, 2016.


Twitter @DrKatyKamkar                   Linkedln: Dr. Katy Kamkar

How to Cite
PapazoglouK., KamkarK., & ThompsonJ. (2021). Law enforcement wellness: Promoting the “good” during the “bad” and “ugly”. Journal of Community Safety and Well-Being, 6(4), 168-173.
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